The Foo Fighters with an extensive array of rock legends, and friends of Taylor Hawkins 3.9.2022 Wembley Stadium
NME provided a comprehensive and well informed summary of the day: NME on The Taylor Hawkins tribute. I could never do this day justice. I went up on the train still looking up the names of many guests – some were family, some were relatives, some from bands I knew but not individual band members. I got to hear them all in what transpired to be a six hour emotional rock’n’roll feast in honour of Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins (1972-2022).
At the 4.30pm start, which me and gig buddy Dave were in promptly for the start of, I started putting a few notes into my phone but it soon became apparent that such was the fast changing array of talent any hopes of keeping up would be fruitless and overly distracting from soaking up this extraordinary event. My pics were all a bit distant – we were a fair way back, high up in a Wembley Stadium holding a capacity 90,000 crowd – but to jog the memory better it was streamed Worldwide and proper recordings will be available. I will watch it all again when I’m ready. There is also the second US version in a few days of me writing this (in LA on Tuesday 27 September).
Perhaps I will feel differently when I re-watch it but I left that stadium thinking that was the best gig I had ever been at – what a collective performance and what a remarkable multi-instrument display, with so many artists, by Dave Grohl, with all the emotion of the whole event as well. It was incredible.
In my photo above, on the bottom left, the film camera bank can be seen and with mobile ones and aerial shots, I can only imagine that the aired version would have totally overcome any sound any vision detractions I had – fair bit of echo back there which noticed when artists spoke to the crowd.
Liam Gallagher kicks it all off in a respectful and calm mood with two very apt Oasis songs with Dave Grohl on the drums: Rock’n’Roll Star and Live Forever. From that point on I recall my high points, with memory jogging help from the 50 song setlist published in NME.
Hearing Nile Rodgers perform Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Modern Love, in Wembley Stadium seemed so fitting to the surroundings – I could visualise a white suited Bowie on that stage. It was the artists I had never seen and am unlikely to see live now that grabbed my interest more though. The first of those was Wolfgang Van Halen playing a couple of Van Halen songs: Bonfire and Hot for Teacher, with Justin Hawkins on vocals.
Another surreal high spot was the Supergrass section. They were invited as Taylor Hawkins liked them and they toured with Foo Fighters a few years back. Supergrass can’t have played to a crowd like this – I have seen them a few times and hearing their three songs Going Out, Caught by the Fuzz and especially Alright blasted out in such surroundings was fab: it felt so upbeat and happy in the circumstances…with Dave Grohl on drums …of course.
The distinctive sound of Chrissie Hyde was another moment – another three track package ending with Brass in Pocket.
Violet Grohl, Dave’s daughter, with Mark Ronson and Mr Grohl on drums hit an emotional spot with Valerie, as the Amy Winehouse adopted Zutons belter.
One guy I was really looking forward to see, OK hear anyway, was AC/DC’s Brian Johnson – there’s a great tv series where he drives around to meet up with and talk to artists and Dave Grohl featured on one. I doubt I will ever see AC/DC but I got to hear Brian Johnson do Back in Black and Let There be Rock, backed by the Foo Fighters, with Justin ‘Darkness’ Hawkins helping out again.
When Stuart Copeland took to the stage that was another big moment – I bought those Police early singles before they went huge – a distinct drumming sound. Everything She Does is Magic with Gaz Coombes of Supergrass on vocals. Another unique experience in music.
One band that I somehow got into later in life, as what started as a guilty pleasure, was Rush. They have said they will never tour outside North America again… but two of them were here, including Geddy Lee, the voice. They played 2112 Part 1: Overture and Working Man. Wow. Just wow.
My last mention before the Foo Fighters’ main set is the Queen section. Highlights: Brian May playing Love of My Life; Justin Hawkins singing Under Pressure and Eurovision man Sam Ryder singing Somebody to Love – Roger Taylor singing, son Rufus of The Darkness drummer. So much going on at this full-on rock celebrity jam session.
Then the Foo Fighters main set itself – Grohl holding it all together, though ripped with emotion. A set that started with Times Like These, All My Life and the blast that is The Pretender and finished with My Hero (Taylor Hawkins’ son Shane drumming so hard in his dad’s place) and lastly Everlong.
In the middle of the Foos’ set… an unannounced appearance of Paul McCartney. I was there at Glastonbury when Dave Grohl guested in his set with Springsteen so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
McCartney called on Chrissie Hynde to duet with Oh Darling and then into Helter Skelter. My favourite Beatles song: I always say Siouxie and the Banshees really knew how to play it best but hearing McCartney do it at this event was a special moment.
Six hours. 50 songs. An epic performance and a beautiful event to pay tribute to the life of Taylor Hawkins. An extraordinary day which I look forward to reliving on film sometime.